Author: Jon Ingold Year: 2001 Development System: Inform Cruelty Rating: Merciful Length of Play: 1-2 Hours
My Rating: 6
Awards: Best Game, Best Story, Best Setting — 2001 XYZZY Awards 1st Place — 7th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition
I normally am a sucker for anything involving time travel and paradoxes and I tend to prefer linear gameplay. Jon Ingold is also one of my favorite authors. So All Roads should be right up my alley. I judged the 2001 IF competition and remember giving this one a score of “6” and then being surprised it took first place and won a whole slew of XYZZY awards. I decided to play it again recently to see if time would change my mind, but I left once again feeling underwhelmed.
Author: Daniel Ravipinto Year: 1996 Development System: Inform Cruelty Rating: Merciful Length of Play: 2 hours
My Rating: 5
Awards: Best Story — 1996 XYZZY Awards
Tapestry was one of those games that was pretty revolutionary when it was released. Replaying parts of one’s life wasn’t a new concept by any means, but the storytelling device was ripe for the interactive-fiction treatment. As such it wooed me at the time, but replaying it all these years later I mostly just see the flaws.
Author: Ian Finley Year: 1997 Development System: TADS Cruelty Rating: Polite Length of Play: 3-5 hours
My Rating: 10
Awards: Best Writing — 1997 XYZZY Awards
In 1999 I discovered the IF Archive and the first game I played was not Babel. It was Heist, by Andy Phillips. While I was terrible at it, I was impressed by the parser since the last new text adventure I had played was Bureaucracy. The second game I decided to try was Babel, and I was simply blown away.
Author: Emily Short Year: 2000 Development System: Inform Cruelty Rating: Merciful Length of Play: 15 minutes
My Rating: 6
Awards: Best Individual NPC — 2000 XYZZY Awards
Galatea is an impressive piece of coding of an art critic interacting with a statue. Around the turn of the century there were many games that tried to create incredibly in-depth characters that would respond to anything, not to mention Scribblenauts, which tried to allow for a near infinite amount of actions. Of all in this genre I’ve tried, Galatea is the most successful at being interesting; yet, the shine wears off quickly and I stopped caring quicker than I thought possible.
Author: Robb Sherwin Year: 2001 Development System: Hugo Cruelty Rating: Tough (save frequently and you’re fine) Length Of Play: 3-4 hours
My Rating: 9
Awards: Best Writing and Best Individual NPC — 2001 XYZZY Awards
Fallacy of Dawn won the XYZZY award for best writing; if you play for five minutes and don’t immediately agree, then save yourself some headaches as this game might be the buggiest to ever win an award. If you do enjoy the writing, then you’re in for a treat that is Sherwin’s fascinating and demented brain space.
Author: Adam Cadre Year: 1998 Development System: Inform Cruelty Rating: Merciful (there is no way to die or get stuck) Length Of Play: 1-2 Hours
My Rating: 9
Awards: 4th Annual IF Competition: 1st Place 1998 XYZZY Awards: Best Story, Best Writing
In 2019 I played Photopia for the second time, almost twenty years after my first playthrough. I worried that time or perspective would change my opinion, and while that did indeed happen, it remains a treasure I will still recommend to anyone who delves into the world of interactive fiction.